US Embassy gave no stay away warning to Kiwis

Published: Saturday, February 1, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Nairobi: The United States Embassy in Nairobi said on Friday it gave a routine security briefing to New Zealand cricket officials before their decision not to play their Kenyan World Cup match but did not warn them to stay away. "At the request of the British High Commission in Nairobi an (US) Embassy security officer gave New Zealand (officials) a standard security briefing," Embassy spokesman Peter Clausen told.

"It is the same as we give to new staff and families, official visitors, businesses and the resident American community," he added. "While providing an honest assessment of security in and around Nairobi, the embassy said nothing which suggests that the cricket matches scheduled for Kenya should be cancelled for security reasons," said Clausen.

Also on Friday, Kenya urged the New Zealand cricket team to reconsider its decision - purportedly based on reports of a "terrorist threat" in Nairobi - to defy the International Cricket Council's decision to go ahead with two World Cup matches in Kenya. British High Commission spokesman Mark Norton also told that his mission had not advised the Kiwis to stay away. "Our position (on security in Kenya) is encapsulated in our travel advisory ... We advise British nationals to exercise vigilance in public places. We do not advise, I repeat, we do not advise people not to come to Kenya," Norton added.

Kenya has twice been the target of terrorist attacks. "Have all their cells gone away? It would be nice to think so. But let's not forget New York was attacked on September 11, 2001," noted a Western observer based in Nairobi. Kenya however pleaded with the doubters not to judge the country's security on past incidents.

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